Exhibiting Photo Book photographs – cropping changes?


Over the holidays I was re-examining my 2018 project Middle Ground and thinking that since CalTrans has demolished almost all of the iconic San Diego freeway median I had photographed, perhaps this project might now warrant a second look in a gallery space in San Diego county?

What I had not realized at the time I was working on the Middle Ground project is how my topographic subject would lean into the earlier work of the late Bernd & Hilla Becher photographs; a vanishing urban structure presented in a manner that was both documentary and conceptual.

One issue that recently concerned me; most, if not all, of the photographs I used for my limited edition artist book (& editions are still available, so message me if you have an interest), were cropped and rotated to some degree to create the continuous line of the top of the K-rails through my book. Would I necessarily need to create exhibition prints that looked exactly like the photographs in my book?

Some of the photographs were cropped pretty tight. So what artistic and aesthetic latitude might I (and others) have in reproducing my art work in various mediums, events and situations? I have no issues with cropping my rectangular photographs into a square format to post on Instagram. Thus I was thinking that the same would be true for re-sizing (different cropping) my photographs for the book versus a project exhibition.

I floated this idea of keeping the same cropping for a photograph between a book and exhibition with a couple of people at the recent LACP exhibition opening and I was surprised by the different responses covering the entire spectrum; from “no issues with different cropping”, to “you should not do that”. I am beginning to think that the later response might relate to changing the cropping of a photograph when selling the print; once a print image is finalized and being sold, then it “should” remain the same cropped image. Subsequently I posted this same book geek question on Facebook and essentially received a unanimous response: it’s you art (photograph), do what you want, make the changes between the two as you think necessary. Cool!

I am not going to worry about this aspect any more as I evaluate my Middle Ground photographs for another exhibition.



Featured photograph: Access Point (Middle Ground), 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale

2020 Workshop: Developing a Creative Book workshop with Medium Photo, March, 19-22, 2020, a four-day extended weekend workshop in San Diego (workshop registration is now open)


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